Monday, January 03, 2005

New Truths About Real Men

From the Boston Globe. I am not going to say much about this article except that I think this information you have been presented in a MUCH BETTER fashion.

New truths about real men

By Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers January 1, 2005

THE NEWS about men in the year just past was dismal. A high-profile court case saw a husband (Scott Peterson) convicted of murdering his pregnant wife. CEOs at Enron and Worldcom stand accused of defrauding employees and investors. NBA players waded into a crowd, fists flying. Then, to put the icing on this poisonous cake, the Department of Labor reported that the working woman spends twice as much time, on average, as the working man on household chores and care of children.

It gets worse. At home men are seen as lazy slugs and at work are viewed as old-fashioned, kick-butt bosses. In school, boys' verbal abilities lag far behind those of girls. As parents, males are thought to lack parenting abilities. Expanding paternity leave is pointless, since males are programmed to have little emotional attachment to their kids.

Males lack empathy with others. If a friend approaches them to talk about problems, they change the subject or make a joke. In relationships they don't have a clue. They are faithless wretches "hard-wired" by their genes to be promiscuous.

Is this picture accurate? Happily, new research shows that it is not. Indeed, real men manage to escape the stereotypes much of the time. For example:

The lazy slug label is unfair. In fact, in dual-earner couples -- the dominant family form in the United States -- men's housework chores and child care have increased steadily since 1977, says the 2003 National Study of the Changing Workforce. The "gender gap" in hours declined by more than 70 percent, from 2.4 hours per day in 1977 to one hour a day in 2002.

Men are also doing more child care. Between 1977 and 2003, employed fathers in dual-earner couples narrowed the gap by 57 percent.

Are men really "command-and-control" types in management style? The most effective manager, it's now believed, is "transformational," one who gains the trust of followers and empowers them to reach their full potential. Psychologist Alice Eagly of Northwestern University found that women managers were indeed more "transformational" than men. But the difference was very small: 52.5 percent of females and 47.5 percent of males.

Do boys lack the "natural" verbal skills of girls? An analysis by psychologists Janet Hyde of the University of Wisconsin and Marcia Linn of University of California at Berkeley found the difference between boys and girls was trivial. Boys overall don't suffer from an inability to speak and write.

Do men lack a natural ability to parent young children the way women do? No. And when men are the primary caretakers of young children, they "mother" in the same way women do, reports North Carolina State sociologist Barbara Risman. And for the first time, fathers now spend more time with their kids than on their own pursuits and pleasures, reported the US National Study of the Changing Workplace in 2002.

Do men duck and run when others approach them with problems? In fact, a 2004 study of "troubles talk" finds that both men and women largely provide support by giving advice and expressing sympathy.

Are men impelled by their genes to be natural rovers? Psychologists Kay Bussey of Macquarie University and Albert Bandura of Stanford found that most males mate monogamously. "If prolific, uncommitted sexuality is a male biological imperative," the researchers write, "it must be a fairly infirm one that can be easily overridden by psychosocial forces."

In terms of fidelity, men and women are quite similar. In 2002, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reports, 15 percent of women said they cheated, while the number for men was 22 percent. It's time to jettison the idea that males are clueless oafs who come from the planet Mars. Men, like women, are perfectly able to be people-oriented leaders, caring parents, good listeners, and true friends in time of need.

Rosalind C. Barnett is director of the Community, Families and Work program at Brandeis University. Caryl Rivers is a professor of journalism at Boston University. They are the authors of "Same Difference: How Gender Myths Are Hurting Our Relationships, Our Children, and Our Jobs."

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